Tamiflu helps newest study in longrunning debate says

first_img Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The latest—and possibly last—salvo in a long-running debate over the merits of the influenza-fighting drug Tamiflu was fired off today, but it seems unlikely to quell skeptics or nurture unanimity around the drug’s effects. For years, members of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international network of scientists who review medical evidence, have charged that Tamiflu’s benefits are overstated. They agree that if taken soon after symptoms surface, the drug reduces by about a day the length of time someone feels sick. But they dispute that the evidence—including 12 randomized trials conducted by Roche, which makes Tamiflu, known generically as oseltamivir—shows that it cuts down on serious complications, hospitalizations, and deaths. The Cochrane group has also put a focus on transparency in science: It argued that publication bias had left Tamiflu looking better than it really was.center_img The dispute prompted Roche and some influenza researchers to pledge to reanalyze the data—and that’s what’s being released online today. Writing in The Lancet, four flu experts describe blending data from nine clinical trials of more than 4000 patients to assess Tamiflu. Pooling data makes it easier to discern the drug’s effect on rarer outcomes, such as pneumonia. And, the authors report, Tamiflu makes a meaningful difference, reducing the risk of hospital admission by 63%. The actual numbers are small: Nine of 1591 participants who took Tamiflu were admitted to the hospital, and 22 of 1302 those not taking the drug ended up there. The drug was also associated with fewer cases of lower respiratory tract infections that called for antibiotics, the authors say, such as bronchitis or bacterial pneumonia. Patients on the drug had a 4.9% risk compared with an 8.7% risk if not on the drug. “Significant risk reductions were detected,” the authors note, acknowledging that Tamiflu also had side effects, particularly nausea and vomiting, which must be balanced against its benefits.The Lancet paper may be unlikely to compel many people to switch sides, however. “There are no new data presented here on complications or hospitalizations that we did not already know of,” says epidemiologist Peter Doshi of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore, a critic of Roche and part of the Cochrane group that reviewed Tamiflu studies. The differences, he says, stem from how complications are interpreted: For example, were all those cases recorded as pneumonia really pneumonia? Clinical study reports, examined by Cochrane reviewers such as Doshi, suggest they weren’t always, he believes. More troubling, Doshi says, is that the new analysis was funded by Roche through a foundation called MUGAS that it helps support. That detail was not shared in The Lancet’s press release—which Doshi says is “disappointing”—though it does appear at the end of the paper. “This is not independent science,” Doshi asserts.Others suggest that the new report doesn’t change much about our understanding of Tamiflu, though they praise Roche for supporting it and agree with its finding that the drug reduces hospitalizations. “The important thing about this study is that it shows that Roche [was] not hiding skeletons in its cupboards,” said Peter Openshaw, director of the Centre for Respiratory Infection at Imperial College London, in a prepared statement. “Oseltamivir is not a perfect drug, but it does what you might expect,” especially when given after the flu has taken hold and is harder to beat back. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwelast_img read more